A strategic partnership between ZeroEyes, creators of an AI gun detection video analytics platform, and United Safety will see the latter organisation resell the threat warning system into public transit agencies, in order to reduce the probability and impact of an active shooter on mass transit systems.

ZeroEyes was founded by former Navy SEALs and technologists who use proprietary images and videos to train the AI.

Sam Alaimo, co-founder of ZeroEyes, says: “I met the other co-founders in the US Navy over a decade ago. We were in the Navy SEALs team together, and we fought together and ended up finishing up at the military together.

Sam Alaimo, co-founder. Credit: ZeroEyes.

“I went into private equity, and we were all missing out on what we had in the SEAL teams: a sense of purpose, a noble mission, and being able to work with the right people to fight for that mission.”

ZeroEyes focus its efforts on locations where it feels people are exposed to violence such as the threat of an active shooter.

Alaimo says: “In 2018, after the Parkland shooting, our CEO was picking his daughter up from school one day, and she had just finished doing an active shooter drill and was pretty rattled by it and didn’t understand why they had to do that.

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“He asked the school what they were doing with all the security cameras lined up outside the building, and their answer was that they were doing nothing with those cameras. They are for after the fact, after a fist fight, or after a car is stolen, and could only be used after a mass shooting.

“That was the idea behind ZeroEyes: how do we take that 30-year-old archaic technology so that it can identify a gun before a shot is fired? We founded ZeroEyes in 2018 to figure out how to build an algorithm that could make that happen.”

The technology is used on existing security cameras and increases visibility on guns. Dispatching alerts are received by security personnel as well as law enforcement and these alerts can be made from three-to-five seconds from detection.

The in-house ZeroEyes Operations Center (ZOC) delivers intelligence on these gun-related incidents, including the gunman’s appearance, clothing, weapon and most recent real-time location. The company acknowledges that for these threats, the monitoring requires a particular caliber of personnel. The ZOC is operated by former US military and law enforcement specialists.

ZeroEyes built its own data sets, uses its own cameras and creates its own lighting conditions. The company uses a green screen lab which has a number of cameras lining the ceiling and is now able to efficiently build data sets for the various locations where its solutions will be used. For example, specific data sets for subway systems or train stations.

Alaimo says: “We don’t just identify a gun that has been fired; we are not acoustic gunshot detection.

“We can also show you when there is a gun there that hasn’t been fired, and people are shocked when they find out that for every gun that’s shot, there could be ten more pointed at somebody that aren’t shot and we also want to know about those. We can provide that notification.”

The AI solution only detects guns and there is no risk of bias of skin colour or other personal characteristics as facial recognition is not performed.

Personal or biometric data, videos or images are not recorded or stored. Images are only developed when a weapon has been brandished.

Alaimo adds: “The mass shooter threat is fairly unique, it’s not someone covertly trying to kill one person. It is a public act that is made to be known by just how horrific it can be. Police are not trained for combat; they are trained to protect, but not to seek and attack these mass shooters. To plug that gap, people are now turning to technology like ours.

“In the majority of these situations, the gun is exposed for a considerable length of time before it is fired because the shooter has to amp themselves up before doing something so atrocious. An example would be Parkland, where the shooter was pacing in a stairwell in front of a camera with the gun exposed.”

It is expected that ZeroEyes’ solution will increase safety and confidence of commuters as well as operators and staff involved in public transit.

This technology is currently used in various industries in more than 30 States in the US. This includes K-12 school districts, commercial property groups, shopping malls, places of worship, hospitals, military bases, manufacturing plants, casinos and Fortune 500 campuses.

“We have the transportation vertical in commercial and we find a lot of synergies between our verticals. What makes us good in schools makes us good in subway platforms, and what makes us good in subway platforms makes us good in military bases,” says Alaimo.